Foot care

There are 26 bones in each of your feet (one-quarter of the bones in your entire body), 33 joints and over 100 muscles, ligaments and tendons, all working together to support you and move your body around. We tend to take our amazing feet for granted but it is important to look after them well.

  • Wear the right shoes for you – your feet are still growing so it’s important to have them measured regularly. Make sure both feet are measured as it’s very common to have different sized feet. Your feet should never feel uncomfortable or hurt in your shoes – ideally there should be no more than 14mm between your big toe and the end of the shoe and no less than 8mm.
  • Avoid wearing fashion shoes for long periods of time. Ballet flats, for example, are too flat and give no support for your feet. If you wear them every day, you could cause problems with your Achilles (the tendon that connects your calf muscle to your heel bone).
  • It is best not to wear the same shoes every day if you can avoid it. Most people won’t have more than one pair of school shoes, so this may not be practical, but try not to wear them all day. Shoes ideally need 24 hours to dry out and air between use.
  • Don’t wear heels over 5cm high. If you must wear high heels, wear them for short periods only. Not only will wearing high heels cause problems in feet that are still growing, it can cause back problems.
  • Wash your feet every day with soap and water. Dry them carefully, especially between the toes, to prevent problems such as athlete’s foot.
  • Moisturise your feet after washing and drying with a moisturiser to suit your skin type to prevent hard skin.
  • Cut your toenails regularly with nail clippers – cut straight across, not down the sides, as this can lead to ingrowing toenails.
  • Change your socks or tights daily and try to wear natural fabrics (wool, cotton).
  • Wear flip-flops in places like swimming pool changing rooms as these can be breeding grounds for foot infections like verrucas.

If you have a problem with smelly feet, try these natural remedies:

  • soak your feet in a bowl of water mixed with a cup of distilled vinegar for about 20 minutes once a day for a week. Wash and dry after each soak. This helps to kill the bacteria that cause the whiff.
  • try soaking your feet in a bowl of cooled, strong, black tea for about 20 minutes, once a day for a week. Wash and dry after each soak. The tannins in tea kill odour-producing bacteria.
  • instead of using talcum powder on your toes, try using a little bicarbonate of soda which neutralises the odours
  • several essential oils are antibacterial and/or antimicrobial. Try massaging a few drops of lavender or patchouli oil onto your feet after washing

This article gives more information about fungal foot problems such as athlete’s foot and toenail fungus.

Please Note Diabetics need to take particular care of their feet. Find out more here.